Gwen Leron: 50 Shades of Green


Why You Should Avoid Teflon-Coated Cookware

It's Time To Ditch The Non-Stick

Chances are, you have some sort of non-stick cook or bakeware in your kitchen because, let’s face it, non-stick products are convenient to use, easy to clean, and great if you are trying to cook with less fat. Maybe you have a frying pan, a cake pan, a cookie sheet—but do you know what makes these kitchen items non-stick and why you should consider steering clear of these non-stick products?

Teflon® is the magical component that makes non-stick cookware, non-stick. BUT, not all non-stick products are created equal. There are those that are on the safe side and healthy side because they are coated with eco-friendly ceramic and then there are those on the not-so-safe and unhealthy side because they are coated with Teflon®. So why is Teflon® not a healthy choice?

Teflon® coated cookware contains Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), but you’ve probably never heard of these chemicals before, so here is what you need to know:

What is Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)?

PTFE has many applications, but one of its main uses is in the manufacturing of Teflon®, a coating used to make cookware non-stick. PTFE begins to break down when it reaches a temperature of 300°C (572°F) and this is when the problems begin. Once PTFE begins to break down/off gas, this poses a problem to both humans and animals, birds especially. In birds, it can be lethal and in humans, it can cause flu-like symptoms (known as "Teflon Flu" or “Polymer Fume Fever”). If your Teflon® coated cookware is damaged or scratched, when heated, the PTFE fumes are released more rapidly.

What is Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)?

PFOA (also known as C8) can be found in carpets, pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, and even foods. Because it is found in so many places, it is said that all of us have some trace of it in our bodies. PFOAs are used to make fluoropolymers which are then used to make Teflon. It has been found to be a carcinogen to animals and when it gets into the human body, studies have found that PFOAs are linked to heart disease, birth defects, infertility, and a whole lot more. DuPont, one of the largest users of this chemical has agreed to eliminate almost all use of it by 2015.

What are the alternatives to using Teflon® coated cookware?

  1. Use cast iron (I love my cast iron pan!), stainless steel, or ceramic cook/bakeware.
  2. Use Teflon®-free, non-stick ceramic coated cook/bakeware such as Earth Chef (I have been using this brand for years and they are great) or Green Pan.

Do you currently use Teflon® coated cookware? If so, will you continue to use it?